I do not have photographs of the place of my dreams and I am not sure that the place exists ,at least, on this earth but my dream is my family, together in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, forever and a day and best of relations with friends and near and dear ones.
Effect of lights is clear only at night.
What could be more dramatic than traffic lights on a rainy night?
After summers, we have 2 months of monsoon. This year, it did not rain those 2 months and we have drought-like conditions in several parts of the country. The rains that came at the tail end of the season wrecked havoc in the form of flash floods in several areas and unprecedented floods in Kashmir.
Autumn days are hot and humid but nights are cooler. Trees shed leaves, bees and wasps try to build their hives, snails get crushed underfoot. It is the season of diseases- conjunctivitis, malaria, dengue, gastro related diseases and so on.
The festive season begins with Raksha Bandhan (sacred thread is tied by a sister on her brother’s wrist and he promises to love and defend her always) to mark the end of summer. Janam asthami (the birth of Lord Krishna) and Independence Day is celebrated in monsoon.
In autumn, we welcome and worship our departed ancestors for 15 days (Shradhs). This is followed by 9 days of Navratras during which the Mother Goddess is worshiped in her various forms.10th day is Dussehra ( Vijayadashmi- the triumph of good over evil).
20 days later Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated. Each of these 20 days are celebrated for various reasons- worshiping Goddess for the sons, women praying for the long life of their husbands. These are days of fasting and feasting, cleaning and decorating the house and preparing the body for the winter season.
For me, this season is tinged with sadness since I lost my mother-in-law in this season about 12 years ago and my mother last month.
As a child, I liked autumn because it never used to be so hot and we would go to watch Ram Leela (the story of Lord Ram enacted every night for 9 days) culminating in the spectacular burning of effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbkarana and son Indrajeet on the 10th day.
There would be a sort of excitement and expectancy in the air .Life was simpler then. We would get presents and new clothes, meet friends and relatives and eat sweets and ,most important, holidays. My younger brother has his birthday in autumn.
I had earlier written a post AUTUMN IS LATE in a more cheerful mood. Please read it for a more balanced view.
We have a tradition of passing not only jewellery, clothes (heavy silks richly adorned or traditionally woven) but also utensils, hand made dolls, embroidered linen and some personal items from mother to daughters and daughters-in-law.
My mother was not only fond of reading but also telling stories. She inspired not only her children but also her grandchildren and others to read. Her collection of books could rival that of a library. Non- fiction, religious, dictionaries and fiction found place in her daily reading material. From regional authors (translated into Hindi) Bankim Chander Chattopadhyay, Rabindernath Tagore, Munshi Premchand to George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, Wilkie Collins, Daphne du Maurier and so on to Leo Tolsty, Maxim Gorky to O. Henry, Victor Hugo.
Her all favorite book was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She had more than one copy of the book, which she always carried with her, even to the hospital.
She will always be remembered by one and all for the stories she read out from Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati novels by Devki Nandan Khatri. My brothers and I, all 3 of us wanted to have that set of books.
My mother has left all her books to me. She had also given me her collection of magazines (Women’s Weekly, Women’s Own, Women and Home from 50’s and 60’s), which helped in knitting, crafting and embroidery.
My mother, Shanti Sehgal, lost the fight against cancer on 29th August, 2014. She was a God-fearing woman, serving all, loving and giving and very, very brave. She was determined to live and valiantly fought the disease but in the end, her body gave up, though her spirit was undefeated even when she was heavily sedated. She prayed upto the last and was satisfied to see her entire family with her.
Hindu rites of Transition (death) are elaborate and last for upto 1 year and involve not only the family but the community as well. This makes the passing of the departed soul into the next life and the family members to cope with the deep grief, easier.
It is still very difficult for me to talk about my mother and I find it easier to pretend that she is living in another city. She is annoyed with me and will call me up when she will miss me.
Theoretically, the sacred rituals are meant to bring solace but the reality is that the baser nature of humanity is exposed. A family reeling under the impact of prolonged illness of the departed, weariness of the caregivers, astronomical bills of the hospitals have to deal with further expense of the rites, alms and donations and hospitality of the mourners for 13 days.
Greed,envy, idle curiosity and so on of the relatives make lives even more miserable.
I am sorry, I find it difficult to continue. More later………